Feb. 4, 2015
Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J.
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield CT 06824
RE: Tonight's presentation by Stephen Cohen
Dear Father von Arx:
It truly pains me to write this letter. My daughter, Alexandra, graduated from Fairfield last May. If she were not currently on assignment at the University of Georgia's campus in Monteverde, Costa Rica, she would be standing at your doorstep asking: "Is this a joke?" The question, of course, is about Fairfield's astounding decision to celebrate the 20th anniversary of your Russian, Eastern European, and Central Asian Studies Program by inviting Stephen Cohen as the principal speaker—a man whose own writings demonstrate that he has no intention of participating in any " honest, unbiased debate" regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
No one is suggesting that Mr. Cohen not be allowed to speak. But an "honest, unbiased debate" requires a level playing field with two equally sophisticated participants. Merely allowing Mr. Cohen to be the principal speaker allows him to use his not insubstantial academic pedigree to browbeat any unwitting listener into submission with baseless innuendo that is more worthy of a Goebbels award rather than the privilege of speaking at such an event. This certainly does not "honor" Fairfield as Professor McFadden has suggested in the University's press announcement. Nor does it meet Fairfield's mission statement where "the promotion of justice isan absolute requirement".